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Unless you shape your life, circumstances will shape it for you. You have to work, sacrifice, invest, and persist to get the results you want. Choose them well. You can’t start your planning until you know where you want to go.
You are the sculptor of your own image. Have others already done what you want to do? Study them and do what they did. Start anywhere, at anytime, and persist. Stop worrying what others think about what you can or can’t do. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Have the self-confidence to challenge your current situation. This is your life to live; it’s day by day and step by step.
Write down your goals. Only three percent of people have written goals and only one percent review those written goals daily. Be in that elite one percent. Visualize the attainment of your goals often. Goals are dreams with dates attached. You will only become as great and as happy as the goals you choose.
2. Divide and Conquer
A common denominator among the successful is that they are focused on the immediate accomplishment of specific objectives. Separate the important from the urgent and allow time for both. Break down any large task into a series of small tasks and start taking action. In the beginning, don’t be too concerned with how you will achieve your goals. With commitment, re s e a rch and patience, the means will come. Answers materialize when the facts have been collected.
Your goals will evolve into a set of action-oriented objectives, which will
become a series of to-dos.
Now prioritize. If you don’t prioritize your day’s activities, everything is of equal importance. Whether one thing gets done or not doesn’t matter. You want your activities to be important, to have had a clearly defined purpose. Write your to-do list every day. Prioritize it. Make at least one of your daily objectives a challenge. At the end of each day, you’ll be able to relax and bask in that wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
3. Write a Personal Mission Statement
Create for yourself an evolving document that outlines your purpose in life. Who are you? What are your values? What do you intend to do with your time to make your one life meaningful? Excepting acts of God, it is you who determines your future. You don’t have to listen to those who say you are too old, too young, too poor, too unattractive, too uneducated or the wrong color, gender or nationality.
They are not speaking of someone following the Action Principles. When you read inspirational passages in other books, magazines or newspapers, write them down or clip them out. Put everything together in a folder or box. This will serve as your motivational reserve and will help you create a personal mission statement.
Your mission statement only has to be a few sentences or paragraphs. Refer to your mission statement periodically and don’t be afraid to change it as you grow. A mission statement will help you to establish a foundation upon which you can build your dreams and goals and from which will flow your objectives and daily to-do list.
4. Follow Through
Follow through to make sure that you’ve done the job right. Follow through to say thank you and offer new ideas. Follow through to ask for more business. You earn respect by saying what you’re pre p a red to do and then doing exactly that. Follow through shows that you are a person of your word and someone who cares. It shows that you are accessible and that you want to keep the lines of communication open. You may make mistakes and follow t h rough gives you the opportunity to correct and to learn f rom those mistakes. Personalize your follow-up with handwritten notes and phone calls. Small gifts, tickets and lunches may also be appropriate follow-up incentives. Check up on yourself and reap the rewards. Follow through amplifies your effectiveness.
5. Submit to a Higher Power
Look at the big picture. You build your life upon your faith. You cherish your faith. You aren’t afraid to tell others of your beliefs. You stand for positive values. You are ethical in your dealings. You pray and meditate to have the courage to face your fears. You pray and meditate to have the strength to accept, endure and triumph over the hardships and small daily annoyances that the path to success will present. You celebrate the good that you find in the world.
With humility, submit. You are but one fragile, fallible human. Every religion has prayers. A prayer is your conversation with God. Your success and happiness is God’s answer. Your selfless good works in helping others are your prayers put into action.
6. Don’t Complicate Matters
Don’t complicate your life. Think before you act. Look for the simple ways or answers first where less can go wrong. Work from your basics. Make sure that you understand the assignment or the problem before you begin. What are the time and perf o rmance expectations that will indicate satisfactory completion? Reexamine how you are doing things. Is a task consuming all of your time? Is it worth the time you are investing? Do you have the necessary re sources? Can it be delegated? If so, is the right person assigned to complete the job? Your research, your quiet time, your commitment to teamwork and your prioritized to-do list should all help. Pare away the unnecessary. Even the philosophy
underlying these Action Principles can be stated very simply. Improve yourself and help others.
7. Commit to Never Ending Improvement
Constantly seek ways to do things better in all areas of your life. The Japanese have a word for the concept of never ending improvement, kaizen. Pro g ress and ultimate success come to those who train and keep training. If you choose to stop and become aware, you can become a better spouse, son, daughter, friend, employer, employee, athlete and citizen.
Commitment comes from the inside out and is tested often. Measure yourself against the best. Most others will choose to be average. This is what average means. You won’t know your limits if you don’t keep trying. Reject the idea of good enough. Commit to excellence. Take each of your goals and think of how you can improve one percent each month. Success is a journey. It is not a quick fix. The joy is in the doing. Think of success not as a peak to be climbed but a high plateau to be walked.
Always encourage children or employees to do their best and to keep going. Set the bar high for yourself and them. You will all be the better for it.
8. Be Frugal
Separate your wants from your needs. You want to work for all you need, not necessarily for all you want. You do not have to sentence yourself to a lifetime of hard labor for the false trappings of status. Living on less can eventually yield much more. The simpler you make your life, the easier it will be to maintain.
Think in terms of moderation. It is easier to buy things than to sell them. You can make a comfortable life for yourself by finding contentment in the things you already have and holding reasonable expectations.
Be pragmatic. To build an investment bankroll, you can work more or you can spend less. Many people who write and stick to a household budget find that the simple act of thinking and organizing before spending can yield savings of between 10% – 15% of their earnings without seriously compromising their lifestyles. Give yourself a raise by being frugal.
9. Make Today Special
Many people enjoy using the first few minutes of the day for their reflective time. How did yesterday go? What do you want to accomplish today? What will be most important? This, of course, becomes your prioritized to-do list. How will today vary from your usual routine? Can you think of any small things that you can do? Perhaps there is something that you’ve been avoiding, that, if you do it, would make you feel especially proud of yourself.
Give each day a specific purpose. For unsuccessful, unhappy people, there is often a sameness to their days. Is it Monday or Thursday? Is it March or November? Is it 3 o’clock in the afternoon or 10 o’clock in the morning? They’re in a rut and it doesn’t matter. Everybody has the same amount of time each day. How are you going to spend your 24 hours? Plan in advance. Make lists. Lists are your road map to personal accomplishment and balanced living. Always carry paper and pen. What are you doing today to ensure a better tomorrow for yourself and your family?
10. Record Your Thoughts
Carry index cards, a hand-held computer or a small notebook. Borrow napkins to write on. As you become an action-oriented person, positive thoughts will occur with increasing regularity. Write down your ideas. You will have good ideas because you will have many ideas. Review your notes before your quiet time or before bed. You will become your own best therapist. You will see the ways to solving your own problems, finding your own route to happiness and realizing your own dreams. Spend most of your time thinking about solutions and not problems. Get back to recording your thoughts.
11. Use the Power of Patience
You can handle most problems because you know that only a little time stands between you and your goal. It may take twenty calls to make a sale. Be patient. It might take you five attempts to quit smoking or lose weight. It might take ten applications to get the job you really want. The point is that you try and keep trying until you succeed. Most people quit too soon. Be persistent. Be patient. Concentrate on your major goal until you have achieved it. It is not what you did yesterday. It is not what you may be doing today. It is what you are prep a red to do every day. That one cold morning when you want to roll over but instead get up and go to the gym, is a defining moment. Remember that all wealth, all businesses, all real estate and all tre a s u res eventually pass from old hands to young. Be prepared. Your time is coming.
13. Risk Failure
Be ready. There is no better time to start taking positive action than right now. You research and you have confidence in your preparations. You don’t allow yourself to become paralyzed by indecision. You realize that a time comes when you must act. If you hesitate too long, doubts will linger and turn into fears. Yes, you may stumble. Yes, you may be rejected. Yes, you may fail. This is life. Life’s winners accept that in trying they may have to adjust and even start again and again. The diff e rence between successful people and others is not whether you make mistakes or even temporarily fail, but how you respond .
Many people look for guarantees before taking independent action. Yet, in seeking assurances, they frequently receive cautions, which can easily be used as excuses for inaction. Be aware that those who love you the most may be the loudest in warning you not to risk.
12. Maintain A Positive Mental Attitude
A positive mental attitude results from a life dedicated to self-improvement and service. With a personal commitment to doing your best today, you don’t have to be overly concerned about tomorrow. You can be confident that good things will happen and be equally confident that if trouble comes you will have the strength and skills to cope, take control and then conquer. You are tough.
You stay at it. You don’t allow your doubts to destroy your dreams. Hope does spring eternal .
You are thankful to have the curiosity to keep learning. You are grateful to see opportunity knock so often. You are thankful to have the personality to keep making new friends. Your mind can only hold one thought at a time so make that one thought positive. Count your blessings. The way is clear. The world is a better place because you are in it.
14. Get Tough
Tough means that you are willing to stand tall and persevere. Even when your mind and body signal perfectly good reasons for giving up, you go on. This tough is obvious. But tough can be seen every day if we choose to look. Tough may be a patient undergoing cancer treatments or a single mother struggling to raise children .
Tough can be an alcoholic ready to face rehab or an athlete living in a wheelchair. Tough can be rejecting false praise and honestly accepting you and your children for who and what you are. Tough is an ability to make the best from what you are given. Tough is making the decision to replace self-pity, complaints and dependence with s e l f – reliance, independence and action.
You’ve got to be tough to do the big things in life like taking risks, admitting mistakes, and changing bad habits. You’ve got to be tough to do the little things like biting your tongue, waiting your turn and putting up with fools. Self-reliance and selfconfidence will demand your toughness. Then, you must temper toughness with kindness, realizing that many times it will be tough to be kind. Be kind anyway.
15. Cause Change
The status quo may be comforting, but for there to be growth, there must be change. Since you seek growth, you must seek change. You must see yourself and your environment not only as it is, but also as it could and should be. You seek the changes necessary to reach the better you so that you can play your part in making a better world.
First, you change yourself. Can you change your day and spend more time with your family? Can you change your standard lunch routine and take a walk?
Can you change your drive home and stop at a nursing home for twenty minutes and see someone who may have few visitors? Can you change your office habits and find the time to make five more phone calls? What are the possible consequences of not changing? Realize that many people don’t make plans because they don’t want to risk any change. Doing little with your life is much easier and safer than taking risks, but then you will be a small person. Instead, seek the changes which will allow you to be all that you can be.
16. Pass The Test
Life is a test and the points on that test are earned by how much attention you give to improving yourself and helping others. When your test is graded, to what will you attribute your success: study, hard work, personality, talent, skill, opportunity, connections, patronage or luck? No amount of material success earned and kept will be awarded credit. The greater your blessings, the greater your obligation to share your good fortune.
Use your special talents to serve the common good. Let your actions be motivated by a commitment to charity and justice. Be compassionate, kind and considerate. Free yourself from your attachment to things. The Action Principles are your ideals. Right now is the time to consider your blessings. Start scoring points.
17. Accept Differences
See each person as an individual and not as part of a group. All humans from all countries and cultures are equal without regard to race, color, creed or gend e r. Believe with confidence and trust that the vast majority of people whom you meet, befriend or do business with are more similar than diff e rent from you. People are inherently good. Most people act in good faith. They mean you no harm and would assist you in time of need. Don’t waste your time thinking otherwise.
Do not become a party to rumor or gossip. Reject stereotypes and the divisive and demeaning policies that group people into categories. Be the first to build bridges of tolerance and understanding.
18. Master Success
There is a master inside you. It is an ideal. It is you at your best. Keep working.
You are calm, thoughtful, patient and confident.
You are honest, trustworthy, responsible and reliable .
You are loyal and proud .
You are humble and reverent .
You are tough, self-reliant, persistent and hard working.
You are organized, neat and poised.
You are inquisitive and teachable.
You are healthy, vibrant and enthusiastic.
You are kind, friendly, helpful and generous .
You are brave and daring.
You are moral and ethical.
19. Spread Your Enthusiasm
Putting the Action Principles to work in your life will elevate your soul and lift your spirit. You will feel a zest for life. You will live full, enriched days. This will happen because you will have taken the quiet time to think, organize and prioritize your days. You will love many things and these things will become part of your day. You will be in control. Every day you will do good things for yourself and others. Words like boring, bland and uneventful will rarely describe your work or your relationships .
Listen to your favorite CD. Call a friend. Read a good book. Smile. Hear. See. Feel. Smell. Take a walk and look at all the wonders of your world. Let everyone in your life know that life is worth living.
Be known as a motivator. Ask others about their goals and how you can help them. Make people feel part of a successful team. Solicit their input. Keep everyone informed and involved. Establish perf o rmance incentives. Look for opportunities to praise and reward. Enthusiasm is contagious.